NEIL LENNON says that the protest at Celtic Park following Sunday’s defeat to Ross County had nothing to do with his stay of execution as the club’s manager, with the board backing his ability to turn things around.

Majority shareholder Dermot Desmond and chief executive Peter Lawwell have stood by Lennon despite a run of poor form that was topped off by the dismal League Cup exit at the hands of County, a result that sparked protests outside Celtic Park.

But as he prepared to fly to Milan with his players yesterday, Lennon insisted he remains as Celtic manager because the club’s board have faith that he can still save their season.

“We talked about it on Friday and we’ve talked about it since then,” Lennon said.

“You know, [Dermot] bases his decisions on rationale, on values, on durability. He doesn’t make knee-jerk reactions either. And neither do the board.

“It’s not a question of ‘we’re keeping Lenny in the job in spite of everybody.’

“They’re keeping me in because they know I can do the job to the standards we set last year.

“Hopefully we can find that standard again this year.”

Lennon says he didn’t expect to be relieved of his duties by the club on Monday morning following the defeat to County, but admits that it was a real possibility.

“I could have been, I could have been,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it, no. But I could have been.

“I am very grateful. I’m grateful that they gave me the opportunity the first time, and they’ve given me the opportunity again. They know what I’m capable of.

“But this club doesn’t sack managers just for the sake of it. They think about it deeply by looking at the philosophy.

“I’d say we haven’t moved on from last season in terms of performances and results. Not every season is the same and we’re going through a difficult spell.

“The board are being very, very patient with that as well and from my point of view that’s comforting.”